Brought Dangerous Dogs Brought from CA to WA
Over the weekend the Tacoma News Tribune ran story about a local dog rescue group accused of adopting out dangerous dogs brought to Washington from California.
The group, PURRR Rescue, was started as a cat rescue group but switched to dogs in 2004 after its founder died and Diana VanDusen took it over.
The Tribune noted that South Sound animal control officers have had several run-ins with VanDusen.
Last summer they dealt with “a series of deadly pet maulings last summer committed by dogs she had adopted out.”
PURRR brought the three dogs involved in the maulings from California.
The faster they adopt out the dogs, the faster they can bring up another load of dogs to sell.
Numerous Red Flags Raised
I don’t know whether PURRR does this or not; however, in my opinion, the Tribune article validates concern that some of the dogs PURRR is adopting out are dangerous. Furthermore, they make me question whether or not the organization is a viable, trustworthy dog rescue group.
Here are the things in the article that raised red flags for me:
1. Multiple jurisdictions and agencies have had problems with P.U.R.R.R.
The City of Lakewood denied her business license application because allowing her to keep adopting out dogs could be “injurious to the public health, safety and welfare.”
A Lakewood Animal Control officer investigating one of the attacks last summer said VanDusen told him during his investigation that she’d had the dog “assessed by a dog trainer who determined the dog was adoptable.” But the trainer told him, “I never saw this dog.”
Tacoma Animal Control visited the property twice. The agency sent her a letter in October saying “she needed to license the animals.”
2. The families that adopted/fostered the 3 dogs involved in the maulings last summer all said Ms. VanDusen never told them the dogs were aggressive.
3. Ms. VanDusen told the Tribune that “she’s taken in more dogs than she can place.” She has about 37 dogs at a leased location in McKenna. Small rescues cannot properly care for that many dogs.
Even larger rescues rescues with tons of money, staff and volunteers don’t have that many dogs. The Seattle Humane Society currently has 22 dogs available for adoption on its website. Homeward Pet in Woodinville has 9. The Humane Society for Tacoma/Pierce County has 20.
4. She charges astronomical adoption fees. Most rescues and shelters charge $100-$300 and a bit more for puppies since they are in higher demand. P.U.R.R.R. charges $450 for an adult dog and $800 for a puppy, which is more than some breeders charge for a purebred puppy.
A well-run rescue or shelter doesn’t charge adoption fee anywhere close to those amounts. The Seattle Humane Society only charges $250-$275 for a puppy and $199 for an adult dog. The Seattle Animal Shelter charges $175-$210. NOAH charges $150 for dogs and $350 for puppies under 6 months.
5. She adopts out too many dogs to do adequate behavior/medical assessments on them. In the article Ms. VanDusen estimated she found homes for 500 dogs in 2013. That’s a little over 40 dogs a month. I don’t think one person operation could have time to assess the behavior and health of 40 dogs.
For comparison, the Seattle Animal Shelter, which has many more resources at its disposal, adopted out 507 dogs in 2012.
Patti Angeliz, the founder of Valhalla Rescue in Winlock, told me, “I can’t speak for every rescue, but it is standard policy in the veterinary world and our rescue to hold dogs for 7 to 10 days, in isolation, to ensure that they have no communicable diseases, such as parvo or distemper. We also use that time to ensure they do not have coccidia, giardia or any other parasites.”
She added, “claiming they make 500 adoptions annually is either highly exaggerated or they don’t do home or reference checks.”
6. She takes no responsibility for her dogs after they are adopted. Reputable rescues will take back their dogs if an adoption doesn’t work out. Last summer, she told the Tribune, “Once the dogs are adopted, they become the owner’s responsibility.”
7. A complaint filed by Peninsula Pet Lodge said the dogs Ms. Van Dusen sent to them showed signs of neglect like “emaciation, malnourishment and the need for flea and worm medication.” The company filed the suit to recover more than $7900 they claim Ms. VanDusen owes them.
Ms. VanDusen denies all the allegations against her. But the consistency of the allegations and the fact that they came from multiple sources should raise some concern.
Personally, I wouldn’t adopt a dog from them until all these problems addressed.
If you’re going to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue check out my list of 10 things you can do to ensure you adopt a dog from a reputable rescue.